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Graduation stories - Lauren has her dream job eating ice cream for a living!

12 July 2016

Lauren Stuart_main_2

Thanks to her Food and Consumer Science degree, Lauren Stuart now has her dream job eating ice cream for a living, working as a Technical and Quality Technician for Mackie’s of Scotland.

This was despite having undiagnosed dyslexia and dyscalculia throughout primary and secondary school, and not finding this out until second year at university.

Here she tells us about how the support from Student Services here at Abertay meant she finally got a diagnosis, what it was like being a student here, and how the placement that makes up part of the Food and Consumer Science degree was what made it possible for her to secure her amazing job.

Food, glorious food!

“I initially went to university to study Food, Nutrition and Health as I wanted to be a nutritionist and had such a passion about nutrition and wellbeing as well as anything food related. However, the first two years were joined with a Food and Consumer Science degree and I was actually very lucky that they did this, as I found out more about the different careers open to me with a food degree: I saw that I could do more than just be a nutritionist or a home economics teacher – I was given a platform to learn more about the food industry. So I swapped degrees at the end of second year, as I realised that I preferred and was excelling in the modules more tailored to the food industry.

“Abertay was the ideal university for me as it was smaller than other universities. I felt that a close-knit university would enable students and lecturers to have a better relationship, which was definitely the case – lecturers knew most of our names rather than identifying us just as numbers. And another thing that made me choose Abertay was that during the open days, all members of staff were very friendly and understood all the concerns and questions that myself and others had."

Mackie’s of Scotland

“An essential part of my degree was carrying out a placement within industry for three months. This was the best part of the course – hands down! You spend your time in class learning and studying subjects and then, when you go out on placement, you finally get to use that knowledge and see which areas are more important for the particular role you’re carrying out. Although sometimes I didn’t see the relevance of certain modules at the time, going out on placement highlighted areas in which those modules were actually crucial.

“Due to the size of the university, you’re able to tailor your placement to almost exactly what you want. My placement tutor, Kathryn Carnie-Lyall, was the biggest help and support. My placement was at Mackie’s of Scotland, the ice cream and chocolate company, and Kathryn ensured that I was going to progress there and was a great means of support during some challenging times.

“The placement allowed me to learn about two main areas of the food industry that I was extremely interested in but couldn’t decide between: quality and technical. I was allowed to create a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points – or HACCP – plan for their new chocolate factory, which was an amazing experience. I carried out environmental sampling as well as reviewing labelling to ensure it complies with regulations. I also got to eat lots of ice cream – who can complain about that!!!"

Fantastic student support

“I always struggled with numbers, reading and writing in primary school, but I received great support there, so I didn’t do too badly. I moved to Dundee to start high school though, and had very little support during that time. A few teachers asked if I had dyslexia but I didn’t know, and nobody suggested that I should get tested.

“In the first year of university I managed to pass all my modules, but it was an extreme struggle and I knew I had to ask for help, as I was convinced I wouldn’t make it to second year. I went to Student Services and highlighted my concerns and they were very understanding. I was officially assessed and a week or so later I received a report highlighting the extent of my dyslexia and dyscalculia. The support from then on was remarkable, and my confidence grew – as did my grades. I was scraping Cs in first year and achieving As and Bs in third year. Without the support from Student Services I wouldn’t have finished my degree, and I wouldn’t be working in the job of my dreams! I owe them everything."

Come to Abertay!

“I would encourage anyone thinking about Abertay to go there. Yes, it’s small, but the benefits of that are remarkable. You are known on a personal level which is great for asking for help and for asking questions. The support the lecturers and Student Services can give you is amazing – and they truly help with anything and everything!

“I now work at Mackie’s of Scotland in Aberdeenshire, where I’m a Technical and Quality Technician and I’m getting to do exactly what I always dreamed of. I work alongside my quality and technical manager to ensure that our products are the best they can be, ensure that all our HACCP plans and procedures are up-to-date and follow the requirements of governing bodies and so forth. I also get to carry out environmental sampling, and I also get to eat ice cream, chocolate and honeycomb on a daily basis – so I really can’t complain.”

Congratulations to Lauren on her new job!

To find out more about her course, please visit our course pages:

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